Punta Crena Riviera Ligure di Ponente Vigneto Isasco Rossese 2013
Ask Paolo if the family follows organic methods in the vineyards and he’ll laugh. We’re not “organic,” he says as if you had asked about some crazy new technology. We just do everything the same way our ancestors have for hundreds of years. They even build their stone terraces by hand, using the method established here three thousand years ago. The vineyards of Punta Crena (which is named for a large promontory jutting into the sea at the edge of the village) are all within 1200 meters of the water and enjoy sea breezes that help keep the grapes healthy and happy. The Ruffinos are proud to work almost exclusively with local varietals, but they don’t have much company. Mataòssu, which once reigned supreme in this zone, was gradually ripped out because it has such a difficult vegetative balance; Crovino gives such low yields that no one else will grow it. As a result, several of Punta Crena’s wines are one of a kind: the Mataòssu and Cruvin are entirely unique (two other producers make wines labeled Mataòssu, but in fact their vines are the related Lumassina), and the Barbarossa is the only one produced in Italy (a local grape of Emilia-Romagna has the same name but is unrelated). They believe that their only job after the harvest is simply to avoid ruining their lovely fruit as it turns to wine. These are light, fun wines with no pretension. Every bottling from this estate marries beautifully with the local cuisine of fresh vegetables, fritto misto, and anchovies prepared every way imaginable, and we at KLWM are constantly finding more pairings where they taste just as good.
Beyond the usual suspects, there are hundreds of red grape varieties grown throughout the world. Some are indigenous specialties capable of producing excellent single varietal wines, while others are better suited for use as blending grapes. Each has its own distinct viticultural characteristics, as well as aroma and flavor profiles, offering much to be discovered by the curious wine lover. In particular, Portugal and Italy are known for having a multitude of unique varieties but they can really be found in any region.